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Best-Laid Plans Often Go Awry

Best-Laid Plans Often Go Awry

We’ve been imagining and planning, studying and anticipating our transition from land to boat for about two and a half years, but no amount of preparation could have braced us for the barrage of unfortunate events to plague our first few days of changeover.  

Those of you who follow us on social media know about a few of our troubles: the deflated dinghy, the torn sail, the scary storm.  What we didn’t share was the clogged head (toilet) on starboard that had to be “hand-dipped,” snaked, and emptied while simultaneously sailing through rough seas. 

We didn’t tell you about the boat-hook that broke in two; the rudder that tangled with a crab pot (and lost) and in 65 degree water had to be untangled by hand by diving under the boat; and the panic of trying to pick up a mooring ball without a boat hook.

We mentioned how we almost lost another dinghy, but what we didn’t say was that we had tied it too low on the davits (the lift on the back of the boat), so on our first day in open-water sailing, the dinghy went from either slamming against the back of our boat threatening to destroy the outboard or dipping deep into the sea to drown itself altogether.  

We also left out the part where, after hoisting our newly-repaired sail, the bowline I tied slipped free from the clew (the corner) sending it flapping wildly in the 25 knot winds.  The only solution was to make our way to the bow to tie another bowline in the 7 foot seas that were bouncing our boat like a pinball in the open waters of the Atlantic.

Keep in mind that this rapid-fire onslaught of unfortunate events occurred in the presence of our captain, a certified ASA (American Sailing Association) instructor tasked with the mission of leading us through four basic sailing courses in seven days and six nights aboard our vessel.  An impossible task given the mishaps and circumstances.  In the end, we were only able to complete 3 of the 4 classes.

Oh, and never mind that — due to several days of gale force winds — we were unable to get back to our boat to actually move into it. 

We had just one evening to prepare before we picked up our instructor.  Basically, we had just enough time to clear two cabins of boxes, make the beds, create a meal-plan for seven days and six nights, and go grocery shopping.  (Yes, we had to plan and prepare all of the meals during our instruction period in a galley kitchen the size of a refrigerator box. I didn’t even know if we had plates or silverware, pots or pans, spatulas or dishtowels.) 

Who knew we’d lose two full days of sailing due to the torn sail?  Who knew it would take at least 45 minutes of motoring through a channel before even reaching open water where sailing could commence?  Who knew neither of us would be able to sleep wondering whether we had misunderstood our calling to this mission of “sailing starlike”?

Just when we had a chance to catch our breath, we learned there was a radiator leak in one of our engines, an issue with the pump on the port-side head (toilet), and a wire slowly burning in the broken water heater. Oh, and just for good measure, the mooring ball to which we were attached was deemed broken and in need of repair.

To say we have been overwhelmed is an understatement. Because here’s the thing: we had a well-laid plan, and our well-laid plan made for a neat and nifty picture of how we imagined this life-change to look.  

And while we don’t consider ourselves sailors yet (in six days of sailing lessons, we only clocked about six hours of hands-on experience in lieu of all. the. happenings.), we’ve learned what can best be described using the words of Robert Burns as adapted from his poem “To a Mouse”: “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

The temptation, then, of this tough transition, lies in the choices spread before us as our best-laid plans go awry: will we retreat to the comfort of who we were? Or will we press onward into the unknown of who we are yet to be?  

For sure, this new life is going to stretch us, grow us, and mold us, and for those reasons alone: onward we shall go… torn sail, smelly heads, leaky radiator and all!  


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